HANCOCK - The Finlandia men's basketball team had given up 95 points per game through seven straight losses to start the year. Friday, they gave up 'only' 93, but that two-point reduction was the difference in the Lions' first win of the season, 94-93 in overtime over the now-0-5 Northland Lumberjacks.
Finlandia led 77-69 with 2:50 remaining in regulation but Northland hit three triples in the final 1:12 and a layup with 1.6 seconds left to send the game to OT. But there the Lions took advantage of Lumberjack foul trouble - four starters fouled out - and made nine of 10 free throws to ice the win.
"We scrapped it out and we made our free throws at the end," FU coach Terry Smith said. "It feels good, real good. It's a little release. ... It just helps team morale to win a game."
Finlandia’s Swartzen Jarmond looks to pass to the post after getting Northland defender Zach Ringhouse to bite on a ball fake in the first half of the Lions’ 94-93 overtime win Friday night at Paavo Nurmi Center. (DMG photo by Stephen Anderson)
The injury-plagued Lions needed a true team effort to come out on top, with seven players pitching in at least seven points and five players racking up at least seven rebounds. Finlandia nearly threw away the game with poor 3-point shooting - 4 of 28 from distance - but won by making 34 of 44 free throws and outrebounding the visitors 52-43. Northland, on the other hand, made it such a close game by making 12 of their 36 long bombs, but tallied less than half FU's free throw total, 15 of 22.
Keith Arnold exactly equalled his team-leading 17-point-per-game average to lead Finlandia - including 11 of 11 from the charity stripe - while adding eight rebounds and seven assists. Dominic Morrow notched a double-double with 14 points and 15 boards. Marvin Ayi-Bamah, Ben Coleman and Jon Moore also hit double-digit points with 14, 13 and 11, respectively.
Neither team led by more than five points in the first half, though Northland held a lead for almost 17 1/2 minutes. Finlandia's only leads were at 2-0 and 23-22, both thanks to Swartzen Jarmond buckets, and the only ties were at 2-2, 4-4 and 30-30 before the Lumberjacks pulled into halftime with a 43-42 margin.
Northland 43 39 11 - 93
Finlandia 42 40 12 - 94
Northland - Carnell Sheppard 28, Zach Ringhouse 19, Adrian Flores 19, Shai Gray 12, Eric Krall 7, Nathan Sharp 6, Dillon Riehle 2. FG 33-78; FT: 15-22; Rebounds: 43 (Flores 14); Fouls: 28; Fouled out: Sheppard, Ringhouse, Krall, Gray; 3-point FG: 12-36 (Sheppard, Ringhouse 4).
Finlandia - Keith Arnold 17, Dominic Morrow 14, Marvin Ayi-Bamah 14, Ben Coleman 13, Jon Moore 11, Allante Denson 8, Swartzen Jarmond 7, Matt Strong 5, Darius Butler 4, Craig Raasio 1. FG: 28-70; FT: 34-44; Rebounds: 52 (Morrow 15); Fouls: 19; Fouled out: None: 3-point FG: 4-28 (Ayi-Bamah 2).
"Just keep going hard and be a little more stable on offense," Smith told his team at halftime. "We were just rushing into the offense, hurrying up to score. ... (In the second half) they broke down a little bit after 10-15 seconds of working it a little bit, and that was more effective. We just have to be more patient."
Ayi-Bamah broke a 3-minute, 15-second scoreless drought from both teams to start the second half with a trifecta that gave the hosts a 45-43 lead. Finlandia's more-patient offense allowed it to lead the rest of regulation - by as many as eight points on five separate occasions - until Carnell Sheppard's layup with 1.6 seconds left that sent the game to the five-minute overtime. Sheppard led all scorers with 28 points.
Then in overtime, the fouls caught up with the visitors. Sheppard fouled out with 3:09 left and point guard Zach Ringhouse, who had 19 points, notched his fifth foul with 39 seconds left. Nathan Sharp nailed a 3 with 11.1 seconds left in OT to cut Finlandia's lead to 92-90, but Ayi-Bamah hit both free throws to make it a two-possession game. Adrian Flores, who also had 19 points for the Lumberjacks converted a layup-and-one as time expired.
The Lions look to make it two wins in a row at 3 p.m. today at the Paavo Nurmi Center as Calvin College comes to town.